Old library makes its way to Lake Vista

Published 7:19 am Tuesday, August 27, 2013

The historic Bogalusa library, which used to sit at the south end of Austin Street near the train trestle, is now settling into its new home at Lake Vista.

The old wooden building was moved across town during the low traffic period early Sunday morning.

Just after 6 a.m., Phillip Pugh and his trusty sidekick, an Australian shepherd named Patch, pulled the oversized load on to Austin Street and followed an advance crew of police, Sheriff’s Office and Public Works vehicles that were blocking traffic and ensuring a clear pathway.

“We went up Austin, took a right on Arkansas and a left on Memphis to Louisiana Avenue and out,” said Public Works Director James Hall. “We were going to go all the way up Austin, but the red light would have given us fits.”

By about 7:15 a.m., the whole bunch was on Louisiana Avenue. A bulldozer led the way, helping pull up any signs that were in line to be knocked over by the slow-rolling building that overhung the roadway by at least 10 feet but managed to fit between the power poles on either side.

Moving crews pulled up mailboxes to keep them from being damaged, but several of the crape myrtles on the median were forced to demonstrate their resiliency by being bent over and then bouncing back erect.

About two hours after the journey started the crews lifted telephone wires out of the way and pulled the library onto its new home site, where it will be transformed into a Welcome Center for the city and, perhaps, the parish and state.

“It was a real good move,” Hall said. “We had good help, and we had everybody all lined up.

“We had to move some signs and mailboxes, but as soon as the house was set we put them back up in place. They were all back up Sunday morning.”

On Monday crews were working to put blocks under the building and get it off of the moving trailer. Meanwhile at City Hall, the planning for the transformation was under way.

The old building is currently without a roof because asbestos shingles were discovered under the tin during preparation for the move.

The hazardous material was removed, but the city wants the old library to retain its historic look.

Director of Personnel Sandy Bloom put out a call for pictures of the library in its early days.

“She got one,” said Hall. “Now we want to try to duplicate the way it looked with shingles that are not asbestos. We want it to look as near to original as possible.”

Bogalusa leaders believe that will provide an especially charming, warm and appropriate welcome to visitors arriving from Mississippi and beyond.